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Cambridge, Massachusetts Moves To Ban Facial Recognition

Citing threats to free speech and civil rights, the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts on Tuesday moved to prohibit local government from using facial recognition. Three other cities in the country have already instituted such bans over concerns that the technology is biased and violates basic human rights. Gizmodo reports: In December of last year, the Cambridge City Council passed the Surveillance Technology Ordinance which requires the council’s approval prior to the acquisition or deployment of certain surveillance tech, which included facial recognition software. The order was passed on Tuesday by the council and will next be sent to the Public Safety Committee, Mayor Marc McGovern and Councillor Sumbul Siddiqui both confirmed to Gizmodo in an email. This marks one step closer to banning the city’s use of the tech altogether.

The amendment, sponsored by Cambridge Mayor Marc McGovern and two city councilmembers, argued that, given recent reports, it’s evident this tech can discriminate against women and people of color. They also argued that facial recognition technology violates a person’s civil rights and civil liberties. “The use of face recognition technology can have a chilling effect on the exercise of constitutionally protected free speech, with the technology being used in China to target ethnic minorities, and in the United States, it was used by police agencies in Baltimore, Maryland, to target activists in the aftermath of Freddie Gray’s death,” the amendment states.


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